Monday, January 06, 2014

Chile 4.0 -- Pieces of the Puzzle

Welcome to my annual Chile report!

If someone had told me in 2010 that I will end up my next four Decembers in Chile I had laughed at him! Once you get caught of this beautiful country, you have to go every year!  Get your gear packed, switch on the motivation and get your ass moving!

But this time something was different since the start. There was no discussion at the check-in in Germany according to our sport luggage. Our gear arrived together with us at the same time and at the same place. Ok, than there had to be something wrong with the rentals. But no, two brand new (for the last time) rental cars waited punctually. Even with roof rails. Damn what a work of our booking crew!

Advise:  Search for a check-in lady. Try to  get eye contact and smile to give her a complimentary feeling. 
And all this before she can see what you wanna drop off...

Still amazed about our swiftness we always ended up on the left side passing every car to shorten the time to get to Pucón. After I picked up my boat from Kayak Pucón (Big thanks for storing!) it was time for some warm-up laps on the upper Palguin. 

the classics

So we got every team member in the right mood for some more creeking action on the Rio Claro. Let’s go North to visit some Tarantulas! It was a great feeling to see them crawling on the ground and a few ours later we slept outside without a tent. Believe me I closed my sleeping bag a little bit more, even it was to warm for it.

bizarre friend

Luckily we got enough water to run all three sections. Wow! I’m enjoying this weird place every time. By the way we have to count the broken paddles by Thilo: 2 in 1 run! Nice! So bring your split-paddle always with you.

 bizarre optic

At the end we had to hurry up for some more action and jumped in the cars. “Get going! We can make it to Mamas & Tapas at about 1am!” Kaboom - that was a motivation! Since that time only fragments were left…  Like pictures of glasses full of rum. Or Chippy dancing on the bar at Mamas & Tapas. He got kicked out 3 or 4 times and sneaked in again every time. To his excuse he got hurt during a boof on the Rio Claro and took the strongest painkillers you can get in Germany, together with about twelve beers… I found him sleeping with his face on the most disgusting carpet of Pucón. Congrats! Siphons are one of the worst nightmares of every kayaker. And so is Pucón! Luckily the water was running out and we had to move more south. The upper Fuy was our next goal. As always a beauty! Crystal clear, warm water with an enjoyable whitewater ending up in some drops.


After we checked this one we needed to get our asses spanked on a little park ‘n huck session - destination Saltos del Nilahue. Thanks for the safety and camera crew! So much winning that I had to hike up again for a second run to get a new experience… I never went down soooo deep before. During my dive I thought my ears would explode. Anyway - a shit lot of fun! Ah, and not to forget count 3 of broken paddles by Thilo.


As I mentioned, since 2010 I was in Chile every year. But I never went down to the Futaleufu. This year it would change! There was no big vote necessary. Every one of us had to check the big river. Ok, you need to book the ferry from Puerte Montt a few days before. We recognized that not until we stood in front of the ferry office. Haha. Anyway we got there over a little detour.  Another piece of the puzzle was completed. A little car action ended up with count 4 of broken paddles, of cause, by Thilo.

big water

Since there our group divided. Two of our five men crew had to return to Germany and left us at Futa where we tried to arrange us with Matias. Who? No clue. A contact person of my friend Rodrigo. I never met him before. The last massage I got from him was: “Meet you at the main road. Something rarely is going on. Be there at 1pm.” Ok?! Sounded interesting… Let’s cross the border to Argentina and try to find him! By the way, you are looking more than staggered when the guy at the border clearance speaks to you in perfect German (approx. 12.000 km from Germany away). Haha. Anyway. Let’s get back to our appointment. Somehow two cars met at the main road. Both cars with boats on it. In one car ourselves. In the other car the Argentinian guy together with some Englishmen and of course… a German. What followed was one of the highlights you can get on such a trip. Another piece of the puzzle: We ran the PEARL, twice! Not to forget count 5 of broken paddles by Thilo.

the pearl

Because we were already in Argentina we had to bundle our shit together to get to the famous Salto del Alerces. That was my personal mission. I ran it twice before always founding myself swimming beside my boat. The third attempt wasn’t glory again. Damn! There was no way around to run this fucking waterfall so many times until I would stay in the boat. Mission passed in the next day! Winning, finally bitch…! Haha.

 my personal mission

Afterwards we got one day off at the lake in Bariloche to reload ourselves. But honestly it is hard to reload at an Argentinian beach. The girls are always wearing thongs… Keep the beaches at kilometer 8 or 13 in your mind. Damn!  Anyway the next piece of the puzzle - the Manso gorge - with an assado at the end was waiting for our welfare! And our welfare was always fantastic. Thank you Matias for let us use your common kitchen! Hahaha!

 the kitchen

A fantastic trip through the gorge was following the next day. Honestly we portaged the big one. Whatever, we need something left to feel the necessary to come back again… ;-) Congrats to the guys one week later. Manso gorge without portage, good job! 

the last one of the triple combo of manso gorge

If you know the gorge you know the pain in the ass waits at the end. You have to cross the lake afterwards. Approx. 7-8 km of flat water and the shore doesn’t seem to get nearer… But the funny collaboration between Argentinian and German engineers ended up in a sailing trip over the lake. I’m not kidding you! It works! Boating certificate – check!

sailing for the assado

After another great night on top of Matias building construction we drove back to Chile to get a nice run on the upper Rio Golgol. Last year I stand at the top of Salto del Indio and decided to adjourn the run. This day it was the same. This nasty fall looks scary and is not getting better after the years. A good night in a little lodge raised my mood and the next morning I was ready to destroy myself. Damn. What an impact. I overmelted the one. After the hit at the bottom I recognized that my boat was not longer under my ass. Ejected!

Salto del Indio

"Run the lower section. It's worth it!" They told us. The result was a confused portage in the woods with masses of horseflys and wonderful 2 to 3 hours hike with the boat on the shoulder. Ah, don't forget without water to drink. Mission learned! Totally tired but pleased we headed north to Chile trying to find our next piece of the puzzle, the Rio Florin. But at this time the water was gone… Fuck to low! Another necessary to get back. We counted the last days and decided to drive to Pucón to sort out some little things we had to do. Like to visit the police station to tell them about our little accident… I mentioned that we got two brand new rentals at the beginning… The second one was an economic write-off at the end.  Whatever! So we had to enjoy our last piece of puzzle for this trip. The special ordered Christmas menu at Latitude ThirtyNine – Rob’s Christmas Burger! What a weapon! After one bite our fingers raised to get the second round. Thanks Rob for your great hospitality! That was a great finish for our trip and we hopped on the plane back the next day. Nothing more to say - I’ve to come back to Chile.

Big thanks to the crew for the fantastic trip! 
See you all on the river next time!

Alex Ax-Ro
Nookie Team Rider 

Photo credits:
Thilo the destroyer.
Jochen the pusher.
Kaspar the film director.
Johannes the bar dancer.